Kimberly Robinson
Bridget Cussen and Tom Dancs are outdoor enthusiasts and their dog Mr. Bones is a perfect fit. He goes on their hikes and climbs and will sometimes range up to a mile away as the make their way along a trail.

Pet of the Week: Mr. Bones is an experienced climber

Bridget Cussen and Tom Dancs are the owners of Mr. Bones who is a pure bred Redbone Coonhound they got from the Factoria Humane Society in 2009. Tom saw him online and Bridget went to see him. "We were originally looking for a Vizsla," said Tom, "the original Hungarian bird hunting dogs, because my family is Hungarian, then we saw him and researched coonhounds a little bit. Our main criteria were that they be good with children and that they cover mileage and that they be pretty hypo-alllergenic."

Mr. Bones, who came with that name, eats a very specific diet of Acana pet food. "It was the only food he would eat. He wouldn't eat anything when we first got him. It turned out he's high maintenance."

Treats are beef liver dog treats from Trader Joes.

The couple love to go climbing and hiking and Mr. Bones has proven to be an excellent fit for their very active lifestyle. Dancs is a former technical mountain rescue expert, which served him well in their first trip with the dog.

"On his very first real backpacking trip we took in the Pasayten Wilderness we were hiking up the Andrews Creek Valley. He was still learning how to travel in the mountains. We came across a herd of elk and he chased off after them and we didn't see him for 24 hours or so. We stayed put for the most part, found a spot to set up camp and went searching. It was horrible weather, pouring down rain. Eventually Bridget got cold so we put her in the tent and I kept looking. Finally it was getting dark and I was able to find his footprints and track him. The next morning we picked up where I had left off and it turned out he had walked himself all the way back to near the trailhead. At the very last quarter mile there was a bridge out and you have to cross Andrews Creek. He tried crossing it on his own but he couldn't make it and he got stuck on a little rock island in the middle of the river. He was completely dry when we found him so he had been there for some time, stuck. We got him off the island, and ever since then he won't go away for more than 20 or 30 minutes. When we're in the mountains hiking, he ranges, sometimes like a mile from where we are and he likes to chase after the critters we come across."

At home Mr. Bones is into comfort. "He likes to sleep under the blankets," said Bridget, "If it's the middle of the night and he wants to get under you'll wake up and he'll be standing and staring at you until you lift up the blankets." Tom continued, "If we're out in the mountains and not too cold I sleep with the bag unzipped and he gets under it with me." They also give him a down coat they put his front legs through and pull the drawstring to make a "doggie sleeping bag."

As climbers the couple has done a lot but so has Mr. Bones. In fact he has been on top of ten of the highest 100 peaks in Washington State, according to Dancs. "I've been working on that list for awhile and I'm at 42. Not all of them are dog friendly because some of them involve technical rock climbing or glacier travel."

Among those Mr. Bones has summited are Hoodoo Peak, Abernathy Peak, Remmel Mountain, Apex Mountain, Windy Peak, Amphitheater Mountain, Gardner Mountain, Greenwood Peak and many others. He's clearly a fearless dog with a sense of adventure, exploration and love of travel.

But Mr. Bones most important journey lies ahead of him.

Dancs and Cussen are getting married in August, and Mr. Bones will be the ring bearer.

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